this online-exclusive series is focused on the study abroad process to provide clarity and further information for UNC Charlotte students who are seeking to partake in an international education experience during their college years. The goal of this series is to encourage students to come out of their comfort zones and immerse themselves in global experiences that are worthwhile and life-changing.
The difference in emotions most students have pre-study abroad and post-study abroad illustrates the special value of all that we have gained while being abroad. Students pre-study abroad are usually feeling nervous, anxious, worried and confused. However, upon return, most post-study abroad students cannot stop talking about their time abroad, spend hours reliving their memories while going through photos and wistfully share of what now seems like a dream. From being a nervous wreck to actively encouraging other students to study abroad – what causes this shift? I believe it is a compilation of all that we have seen and experienced, how we grew as an individual and realizing all that we have gained. The benefits of studying abroad are endless.
It should be no surprise that the world is turning towards a direction of globalization and incorporating an international perspective. This is the case regardless of which field you enter: business, politics, education, healthcare and all other areas. The worldwide trend translates into a desire of organizations to hire individuals who have taken the initiative to be exposed to foreign environments. By partaking in study abroad, students can add international experience to their resumes and stand out from competition during interviews by incorporating unique foreign experiences into your answers.
Learn More about Yourself
It is alarming how many students agree that studying abroad has changed them, or had a great impact on their lives. When an individual moves and lives in a completely foreign environment, it is impossible to do so without growing in character. The ability to adapt to the local lifestyle, learn about a different culture, participate in new activities is not something that comes naturally to most of us who have lived in the same country for a long time. Hence there is a level of effort, confidence, and willingness needed to transition into the foreign environment. Once we take the opportunity to take our education outside of the classrooms at UNC Charlotte, it allows us to grow in character and improve our ability to adapt to changes.
While studying abroad, there is an increased amount of dependence you place on the friendships you create there. Without the usual friends and family, we naturally seek out relationships with whom we are able to feel comfortable with, partake in new experiences with and grow closer together with. One reason (among many others) why study abroad is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is because you are able to meet other students who have come from all over the world for generally the same reason – to see all that the world has to offer. With this common mentality, it is much easier to create bonds with students who are also seeking friends in the new environment. In addition, there is something special about the friendships you create while abroad. The adventurous trip encounters with natives, late nights and inside jokes are moments you will all relive together every time you reunite.
The best thing about study abroad is that no experience is alike. One student may have train traveled all throughout Europe while studying in London; another could have ridden elephants while living in Thailand and another might be enjoying street food in Osaka, Japan right now. All of us engage in different experiences that shape our own study abroad story. Regardless of how we may grow, we all grow.